Title: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Aidan S.
Author: David Levithan
Genre: MG, Fiction, Magical Realism
First published: February 2nd 2021
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: January 19th 2021
“Sometimes we ask questions because we hope the answers will tell us why we asked the questions in the first place.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Text Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I’m hoping to read more Middle Grade reads this year, and there was just something about The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. that caught my eye immediately. And then I’m not just talking about the stunning cover… The promise of a mysterious disappearance, an impossible to believe story and the consequences of telling such story sounded absolutely fascinating, and I’m glad to say that the execution without doubt lived up to expectations for me. This turned out to be an excellent MG story that is perfect for the target group as well as older readers!
The interesting thing about The Mysterious Disappearance Of Aidan S. is that it’s hard to put the story firmly inside a genre box. Is it a contemporary with focus on family and the aftermaths of a missing child and brother? Yes. Is it a magical realism story where the lines between the ‘real’ world and fantasy are blurred? Yes. And is that fictional world called Aveinieu not a sign this is actually fantasy? Maybe. But the thing is: while we have the fantasy world right there front and center, we never actually get to see Aveinieu for ourselves. The main character of this story, Lucas, is Aidan’s brother and therefore never actually visited Aveinieu… Giving us an unique perspective on what happened to his brother, as like Lucas you are left wondering what is real and what is (possibly) made up. This angle definitely made the story stand out for me!
There isn’t a lot of development of the fantasy world, mostly because the story is told from Lucas’ POV and he never actually went there. Still, the glimpses we get through Aidan’s words are more than enough to enchant you, and it feels like a whimsical world we are so close to touch, but never actually get to visit. The focus on the real world and what happens after Aidan is found makes for an interesting contrast, and brings forwards questions about believing the unbelievable and the consequences of telling a story that is basically impossible. As a whole this story tends to tip towards the real world, with a magical realism feel popping up in between. The door (or dresser in this case) to a different world might have been done before (think Narnia, the Wayward Children books), but it is the outsider perspective that makes The Mysterious Disappearance Of Aidan S. unique.
As a whole this story turned out to be an excellent Middle Grade read I’m sure children and adults alike will enjoy. I personally simply couldn’t stop reading until I reached that final page! It has wonderful hidden deeper meanings as well.